64-year-old Zenit coach Ivan Carminati won the Scudetto with Roberto Mancini when he was still a player. Then he worked with the current coach of the Italian national team Carminati in Milan and Manchester, together they came to St. Petersburg in the summer of 2017. What have Italian coaches learned from Soviet science? What problems does Zlatan Ibrahimovic bring to the team? Ivan Carminati spoke about this while European football is on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the precepts of Lobanovsky
– Some directories call Parma your place of birth. Right?
– Not. I found my wife in Parma, we live in this city. And I was born near Venice.
– Yogurt “Parmalat” was very popular in Russia in the early and mid-90s.
– Parmalat was famous in football as well. (Laughs). When I worked at Parma, this concern sponsored the club. But now, as far as I know, Parmalat is not represented in football. The company has changed its owner, they continue to produce dairy products, but Parmalat no longer finances football clubs.
– When did you first come into contact with Russian football?
– In the early 90s – we played with some Russian team. But the score of the match and especially its details have already been erased from memory. In general, I got acquainted with your football when it was still Soviet. In Italy, everyone knew your learned Methodist Yuri Verkhoshansky, who lived in Rome for a long time. Yuri Vitalievich was a great master of training athletes. In our country, he gave lectures, including to football coaches.
– What did Verkhoshansky tell the Italian coaches that you did not know?
– Then it was about planning training work for the entire season. At that time we did not work like that, we did not make plans that far. This has become new to our football.
– It is known that Italian coaches studied with Valery Lobanovsky.
– Oh yeah! Lobanovsky has always been very popular in Italy. We often discuss his ideas with Anatoly Tymoshchuk, who knew this coach well for teamwork – he played with him in the Ukrainian national team. The most important principle of Lobanovsky was great physical activity, which was offered to the players. And gradually, step by step, these loads increased the potential of the team.
– What ideas of Lobanovsky did you get for your work? Including Zenit.
– We often talk about this with Tymoshchuk too. Valery Lobanovsky argued that nothing in football can be considered impossible and unattainable for oneself. Yes, it can reach a certain level today and it does not work. But with proper work, this bar may soon be available. On this I completely agree with Lobanovsky. In addition, Valery Vasilyevich’s role in world football and in attracting science is great. The former coach of the USSR national team and Dynamo Kiev was actively introducing its latest developments into football, this is very important. Yes, football is not a science. But in coaching, she helps a lot. I, too, constantly learn new things and strive to move forward. I read a lot, watch videos, gain experience. Therefore, I partially change my approach every year. Even minuscule changes, 2-3 percent, can bring results.
– Is it true that individual fitness coaches first appeared in Italy?
– Yes. We are pioneers in this aspect. The studies took place at the coaching center in Coverciano. In 1990, after the World Championship in our country, I was in the first graduation of coaches who received a diploma in physical training.
– What is revolutionary in the new methods of training teams?
– Before that, we borrowed methods from athletics for functional training. Coaches from this sport were invited. But gradually we came to the conclusion that the specificity of each sport is different. Running, jumping, football, basketball – both the total range of movements and dynamics are peculiar everywhere. Therefore, at some point it became obvious that football requires narrow specialists.
– What previously popular methods did you have to abandon?
– First of all – from long-distance running. Previously, players could run for 20 minutes or longer. We realized that such a run, at the same pace, is useless for football – it does not give a transfer to the field. Today, footballers don’t run for that long, with the exception of those recovering from injury.
– What are your responsibilities at Zenit?
– The range of my tasks is wide. This is also a warm-up, in which the players are gradually brought to the load that they will have to perform. These are exercises for coordination, for speed of thinking. For this, chips with different colors are used, for example. And of course, work on speed and endurance.
– Who at Zenit is most interested in the content of work on physical fitness?
– For example, Magomed Ozdoev. He always asks what and on what day we will be doing, what qualities we develop, how these qualities are applied.
– What are you doing now in quarantine?
– I sit indoors and only go out for groceries. I train in Zoom with the players, my days are Tuesdays and Thursdays, the rest of the time other coaches are involved with the players.
Ibrahimovic’s fiction and Balotelli’s money
– Together with Roberto Mancini, you worked at both Inter and Manchester City, coached many world-class stars. Which one was the fastest?
– If we are talking about the ability to jerk sharply from the spot, to accelerate as much as possible, for example, at three meters, then number one is Sergio Aguero. Tevez, Balotelli and Nedved are very fast. And if at ten meters, then Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
“I wouldn’t think so.” Ibrahimovic doesn’t look like a sprinter.
– It can seem slow due to its size. But this is a misleading impression. In the first ten meters, Ibra can develop fantastic speed.
– Do Zenit have players comparable in speed to Aguero, Ibrahimovic, Balotelli?
– Definitely – yes.
– Still about Ibrahimovic. He, like many stars, is controversial. Is it true that if Zlatan got up on the wrong foot, then the team, in fact, played with ten men?
– (Laughs) Something like that. If Ibra was okay, he could do magical things on the field. A team with such a Zlatan was capable of defeating anyone. But if Ibrahimovic had a bad day, then … A difficult day then awaited the coaches.
– They found themselves between two fires. On the one hand – Zlatan, who this time is far from his real self. On the other hand, there is the reaction of other players. They were sometimes annoyed that Ibrahimovic did not play at full strength, but for some reason he was on the field. A similar thing happened in training, during bilateral matches. Coaches always had to be very careful – they needed precise and subtle decisions, for example, in the selection of compositions for double-sided. To avoid incidents.
– Who is crazier: Ibrahimovic or Balotelli?
– Of course, Balotelli! Definitely! Mario is a great fellow, he is a great football player. But at the same time it is absolutely unpredictable. Any second you can expect anything from him.
– What episode characterizes him most revealingly?
– Once Balotelli gave me a lift in his car. And he lived near Manchester. On the way, I noticed that Balotelli had a huge pile of money near the gearshift knob. Thousand and eight pounds sterling. I asked Mario: “Why do you need so much money in the car?” He replied: “I don’t know what could happen to me. Therefore, the money is just in case. ” This phrase contains the whole of Balotelli. After all, he had a case when in his house he and his friends arranged something like a fireworks. It ended with burned curtains and the arrival of firefighters.
– Back in Manchester City, Balotelli had a fight with Roberto Mancini in training.
– I was present when it happened. On that day, Mario did not feel well and studied individually. Mancini gave him a task with the ball, then saw that the attacker was doing the exercise incorrectly, and explained to him a second time, soon a third. For the fourth time, Roberto’s patience ran out, and they grappled. But everything ended quickly – we separated them.
– Was Roberto seriously so angry or deliberately provoked anger in himself to cheer up the player?
– No no. There was nothing artificial in the head coach’s reaction! Balotelli then you-acted him seriously. Mancini is naturally furious! In my opinion, it ended with a fine for Mario.
Champions outside the field
– How did you meet Roberto Mancini?
– It was in the late 90s. I worked as an assistant to Sven-Goran Eriksson at Lazio and Mancini was still a player. In the 1999/2000 season, we won the Italian championship, which deeply upset the fans of Roma – Lazio’s worst rival. Soon Roberto decided to go to coaching and invited me to enter his headquarters. By the way, with Lazio we won the championship in a detective scenario.
– Let’s restore it.
-We were one point behind Juventus. The last round for all teams began at the same time, but in the match between Perugia and Juventus it started raining heavily and their meeting was stopped. While they were waiting, we won our match 3-0. And they were waiting for the champion’s denouement, already beyond the field. Shortly after the match resumed in Perugia, the hosts scored and kept the minimum win. This is how Lazio and I became champions of Italy.
– How many fans celebrated gold medals?
– The fans were rowing for about a week. But in Rome, Lazio have their most important rival – Roma. When one of the teams wins a big victory, for the fans the other is a reason to be discouraged. While Lazio fans walked the streets, sang songs and celebrated the championship in bars, Roma fans sat at home. Two years later, the situation changed: under the leadership of Fabio Capello, Roma became the champion. And it was already impossible to meet Lazio fans on the streets.
– In Galatasaray you could compare Italian fans with Turkish ones.
-Turkish fans are hot. In general, in the stands, Turkey has the hottest atmosphere than anywhere else in Europe.